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Equipping the Bike - what's the best gear? Anything to do with the bikes equipment, saddlebags, etc. Questions on repairs and maintenance of the bike itself belong in the Brand Specific Tech Forums.
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Giant Loop Motorcycle Saddlebags & Motorcycle Tank Bags: Panniers, Soft Luggage for Adventure & Sport Touring

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  #16  
Old 14 Jul 2010
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No idea where Lomax is .... probably out riding somewhere.

This is where I've kept my tire levers for the last three years. 3 zip ties round frame tube and kind of wedged into bash plate. Seems to stay put. Haven't lost them yet. Just carry spare zip ties with.

This is a DR650. I used to take that Prop stand with me ... no longer, don't need it. Find a rock, stump, bit of wood ... or just lay the bike over on its side.
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  #17  
Old 14 Jul 2010
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or just lay the bike over on its side.
On the newer adventure bikes that counts as a crash and isn't covered under warranty if one of your fancy, ally frame protectors pops off
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  #18  
Old 3 Apr 2014
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Erm....just come across this thread whilst looking for other info on Google. Realised I'd forgotten to post the prep article about 4 years ago!

I'm sure most of us have probably given up riding and had Grandchildren by now, but just in case...

A rather overdue article.

Fear is one of the most powerful sales tools in the world. It has been used for centuries to sell everything from insurance to political ideals. In these days of modern ‘cotton-wool-wrapping’ the fear mongers are pedalling their wares more than ever and a classic example applied to one of my passions is the purchase and creation of a bike for remote independent motorcycling.

The principle of this complex sounding activity is very simple. You acquire a bike, transport/ride it to somewhere remote, ride around, and then transport/ride it home again. During this process a number of things are important.

  • You ride safely and within your limits (aided by a well setup bike)
  • The bike doesn’t break down (aided by a well prepared bike)
  • You don’t get lost (aided by modern GPS technology)
  • You can carry enough equipment and fuel to supply your needs of food and shelter while riding. (aided by suitable luggage and equipment)

Simple Huh!

Sadly, most people starting to plan a cheap riding trip seem to find that things begin to go wrong almost immediately as they are steered towards to ever more complex and expensive solutions by advertising, ‘doom-sayers’ and the dreaded, ‘experts’, groups of people (usually on internet forums) who have often never seen a desert or been on a long distance unsupported riding trip in their lives but who seem know everything about anything.

Even more worrying are the people who don’t even start trying to do anything about riding anywhere at all because they fear it is too expensive or dangerous to even try. ‘Oh, I couldn’t possibly afford the £10000 it would cost for a new BMW!’, ‘Ooh, that’s far to dangerous!!’, are not unusual comments.

Well, here is the news. £2500 for a fully prepared bike is a perfectly reasonable figure to spend and £350 per week should be the figure you set yourself for the weekly cost of your trip. And there’s more, when you return you can ‘de-equip’ your bike and probably sell it for more than £2000 to offset your costs.

Cost for a three week adventure holiday of a lifetime, £1500. Make that a month away and you still haven’t broken the £1750 figure. Now who can’t afford it?!

My bike of choice for this venture will be the venerable DRZ400e. Already a great trail bike, it makes an even more spectacular cheap adventure bike. Light, low-tech and ultra reliable, its ‘average’ handling and slightly heavy chassis mean racers just don’t like it. For adventure riders a 2l oil capacity, simple steel frame, FCR carb, and a 5000 mile service interval make it a gift from heaven.

Without race credentials second hand values are low and a great donor bike can be had for very little money. A quick look around the TBM small ads and Ebay show 2005 bikes with around 3000 miles for about £1800. I’ve been buying these bikes since 2003 and with a little effort have never paid more than £1900 for a superbly tidy example.

Once you have your chosen bike back safely at home its time to find out about its Achilles heal(s). No bike is perfect and all have issues that can cause problems, even new from the factory. Finding out about them now and fixing them means a reliable and trustworthy bike later on.

For the DRZ a propensity to eat cam chains, spit off its primary drive nut, blow its output drive shaft seal, and crack its engine casings when dropped means we need to get a few things sorted before we move on. Also, no standard kick-start gives a little cause for concern

Firstly, get yourself a decent workshop manual. I prefer the Clymer series and recommend that you carry out all the prep work yourself if you can. The more you know about your bike the better prepared it, and you, will be. Take your time and get to know your steed, that way you’ll always be looking over it as you ride and will be familiar with how it should look and feel. At the risk of sounding a bit like a hippy you’ll become more ‘at-one’ with your machine and will be amazed how often your eye will pick up little problems before they become serious.

So, lets get started with the DRZ specific issues. Not only do DRZ’s eat cam chains at a ferocious pace, but they also suffer problems with the tensioning arrangements. A simple fix is to remove the cam chain tensioner and see how much wear there is on the cam chain as soon as you get the bike. If you have chosen your new bike well all should be fine, in which case you can replace the tensioner and feel happy with your choice (if the bike is older than 2003 you should replace the tensioner regardless with one from a later model, these bikes had cam chain tensioners that were modified to correct earlier faults) or an aftermarket manual tensioner from thumpertalk.com. If the chain is beyond recommended wear limits its time for a change and it seems your bike choosing skills may be weak young jedi! (my bikes have all required new cam chains at around 12-15000 miles).

Next on the list is your primary drive nut. On a few bikes these have been known to come loose, and as we’re going to add a kick start to the machine anyway we can kill two birds with one stone by an ‘all-in-one’ fix. Riding in remote regions without a kick-start is not a good idea, you can’t bump start a DRZ on a dirt surface and the DRZ battery is not strong. A £100 kit from your Suzuki dealer will see you with a shiny new kick-start and following the fitting instructions will lead to uncovering your primary drive nut which can be removed and loctited permanently before re-assembly (please note: Loctite comes in MANY forms. For this job you want a permanent fixing compound than can only be removed by heating with a blowtorch). Whilst you have the right side engine cover off take the opportunity to quickly check the tolerances on your clutch plates and springs to ensure there is no wear. A low mileage minter like yours should show no change from new specs. Re-assemble and smile knowingly, you have a kickstart modified, loctited primary drive nutted, clutchtastic bike. It’s coming together!

Having completed this task its time to save those engine cases. A quick look around the Internet will see you purchasing two aluminium engine case covers for about £20. A heat resistant silicon sealing session will see them firmly attached to your engine and we’re almost done with the motor. A case saver to replace the standard chain cover will help you clean dirt from behind your front sprocket and stop a broken chain smashing your carefully protected engine casings.

Whilst case saver fitting is progressing removal of your front sprocket will show a metal plate held in place by two No3 Phillips machine screws. Impact drive them off (they are tough buggers to remove) and have a peek behind the plate. Here lives the famous oil seal that will inevitably fail at some point in your wanderings (make sure you carry a couple of spares), re-attach the plate using the two machine screws and little vibration-proof loctite, use a normal screwdriver for this and the next time you feel a warm sensation over your left boot you’re either over excited again or its time to remove your sprocket and cover plate ready for a 30 second oil seal change to stop any more oil exiting the engine.

At this point after a full engine service your bike’s engine is ready to roll. The recommended oil level for a filter change is 1.7l . I put in 2l (and have tested the engine oil pressure and found no difference) to help extend the working life of the oil but would not recommend you deviate from any instructions given in manuals or elsewhere.

Some riders advocate playing with your FCR Carb pump settings to increase fuel economy, personally I have found that an easy throttle hand at an average off-road speed of 40mph can yield as much at 70mpg anyway so I don’t bother.

If you plan on being away for a long time and covering lots of miles I recommend a re-usable stainless oil filter. It saves carrying bags of spare filters with you and also stops littering the landfills of the world with used oil filters.

Finally, a good quality bash plate should protect your engine and water pump as well as your lower engine casings. A great model for £65 is the Guard-it-Technology plate from Adventure-Spec.com.

Our next big spend will be on a wheel rebuild. Aluminium spoke nipples with steel spokes are a bad combination if they work loose and are ridden on for any length of time as the nipples wear easily and cannot be re-tightened. A total rebuild of both wheels with stainless nipples and double butted spokes will mean years of trouble/fiddle free operation and shouldn’t cost more than £100. Make sure you use a reputable builder with a proven track record though; a badly rebuilt wheel will be much weaker than standard item. Fitted with 4mm heavy duty tubes (filled with a sealing agent like Ultra Seal or Slime) and tyres of your choice these wheels are now almost ready to roll (other options include fitting rim-locks if you intend to run your tubed tyres at low pressures, or fitting mousses/tyre balls to remove the threat of punctures altogether). As a final touch I always replace my wheel bearings before any trip, for the price it seems foolish not to, but a simple check should be sufficient to ensure all is well. Replace your wheels and stare lovingly at your shiny new kit.

A brake bleeding session and pad check should ensure you are as ready to stop as you are to go. Don’t forget to check for disk wear when you have the pads off!

Chain and sprockets are next on the list. Firstly, aluminium sprockets are out. Their only advantage over steel is weight but the downside of extremely fast wear is a far bigger problem. The road biased DRZ400s runs 15/47 tooth sprockets, the Trail Oriented DRZ400e, 14/47. I have always been happy with the 14/47 combination, it allows me to cruise at 100kmh on the road and ride comfortably in mud and soft sand off-road. Extended road sections may warrant a 15/47 combo, but I’d carry a 14 tooth spare for any intermediate tricky off-road stuff.

I never lube my chain when I ride, mainly because I spend so much time in the desert, and lube and desert sand equal grinding paste. If you feel you must lube then use the ‘dry’ style spray lube and wait for the solvent to evaporate before riding. A good quality ‘O’ or ‘X’ ring chain will complete the operation. Always buy a chain at least four links longer than you need and keep the extra links after fitting. These together with a few spare split links and good quality lightweight aluminium chain tool such as the Motion Pro T6 means a chain rebuild is possible anywhere.

Its now time for some more spending…You will most certainly need a larger tank on the bike if you hope to cover any real distance between fuel stops and this is where a good deal of advance warning comes in handy. A new tank won’t be cheap but regular second hand offerings do appear on websites like the Horizons Unlimited Bulletin Board, Ebay, and Thumpertalk.com. You should be looking to pay from £50 for smaller tank (Acerbis, Clarke, IMS, Aqualine, approx 16l) up to £350 for a new 27l Aqualine unit. I can usually get a comfortable 300km out of my second hand Acerbis15l as long as I take it easy.

Once the old tank is off think carefully about how well the new tank design protects your cooling system and radiators in the event of a fall. Some tanks like the Clarke are excellent, others like the Acerbis are not so good. If you feel your bike’s radiators will have direct contact with the ground in the event of a fall then its time to fit some protective radiator guards. These will prevent crush injuries and flying stones from damaging the radiator cores. At the same time if you plan on travelling anywhere hot (40 Dec C plus) or running the bike under heavy loads at slow speeds for any length of time (i.e. soft sand running) then fit a 1.6 bar radiator cap and instead of using the usual water/antifreeze solution try running water/water wetter. Search for details on the Internet to see how it works but extensive testing has shown me that my DRZ runs 20 degrees C cooler on this mix than on standard antifreeze/water. I have never once needed an electric cooling fan (not fitted as standard on DRZ ‘e’ models) and have never even boiled the bike!

Once your new/second hand tank has been sourced and fitted make sure you use good quality fuel hose and stainless removable hose clips to connect it to the carb. This is so that you can easily remove the fuel pipe should you need get at your petrol for siphoning, cleaning, stove fuel etc. Don’t forget to fit small inline fuel filters between your tank and carb, filling stations in remote places often consist of old water bottles and can contain more solids than petrol!

Our bike is pretty much ready to ride now, but another vitally important part of the preparation process is looming. Making sure we are relaxed on the bike so that we get less fatigued as we ride.

Lets start with noise. The DRZ comes with a loud pipe as standard and you may want to start by changing it. I use a CRD unit and the exhaust note is noticeably quieter. At the very least a simple exhaust end can repack will yield great results for almost no cost.

After noise comes comfort. The suspension on the DRZ is far from race spec, but at sensible speeds it is perfectly adequate if setup correctly. Make sure you understand about things such as ‘static’ sag for the rear shock and that you have fresh oil in your forks set at the correct level. A well set up bike will reduce fatigue massively and make riding pleasurable rather than a battle. Spend a day playing with your settings, making sure your bike is loaded up to your travelling spec before you start.

A re-padded/shaped seat can also reap benefits and can be acquired for very reasonable money. There are at least two old gentlemen working around the M62 corridor that will re-cover your seat for around £30, or if you are feeling brave why not have a go yourself, it’s actually a pretty simple process.

Although I am not a fan you may feel the need for a higher screen to protect you against flies and wind. A new model will cost you upwards of £50 but is only a bent piece of perspex or polycarbonate. Again, buy from a local ironmongers, cut, and fit.

We have already talked about the saddle, but what about body position? If you are not comfortable standing when riding then its time to accessorise! A set of Renthal handlebars is a must, OEM bars are poor quality and will bend almost instantly if you drop the bike. Luckily for us Renthal bars come in a range of different sizes and shapes and a set of ‘Dakar Riser’ bars normally do the trick making a more comfortable position what standing on the pegs. If these still aren’t enough them a set of bar risers should lift things by a further inch and sort things out. By contrast the footpegs on the DRZ ‘e’ model are a reasonable size and I run them as standard, but you may feel you need something aftermarket if you have size 12 feet..

In addition to mechanical add ons you will also need a 12v supply running from your battery to the cockpit of your bike. I use a simple set of two wires made from 17amp cable with a 10amp fuse in the positive line. I terminate this at the front of the bike with a standard cigarette lighter socket which I use as a charger for my phone at night and a power supply take off for my GPS during the day. My GPS also supplies all the information I need such as speed and distance and does so far more accurately than a standard speedo. I mount my GPS with a simple RAM GPS mount which attaches to the handlebars of the bike and is infinitely adjustable depending on my riding position.

The final job is luggage selection. Riding any kind of hard luggage off road tends to lead to broken legs and isn’t something I would recommend. By far the best solution I have found is either a set of simple throw over panniers sitting on a homemade flat bar rack or even better (if you have the cash) one of the new Giant Loop rear saddlebags. They are a great solution to the ‘no-rear-rack-soft-luggage’ problem that has transformed the way I ride.

By the time you have finished these you should have a well prepared and fully ready bike!

Good luck.


Dave
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  #19  
Old 4 Apr 2014
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Great write up! Excellent tips!
Good to hear the DRZ's are still plentiful in the UK. Not as many here in California now ... but prices are still pretty low.

Problem over here in USA is that the "E" model is not road legal. Is it legal in the UK? I wonder how you deal with the stock low headlight output? I did a short Baja trip on mine and the one night ride I did was a bit scary.

What is the total elec. output of the E model? The S model? I've ridden both E and S back to back, even an S with an FCR carb. Just no comparison. The E is so much better ... yet seems the S gets all the love and seems to be the one used for travel.

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  #20  
Old 4 Apr 2014
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Hey Dave,
If you're still building DRZ's ... this may be of interest. Wheels/tires not included but I'm betting it's ALL negotiable. All for $100 usd!
Probably $200 to ship to UK.

Drz400 parting out

Need a good seat? Not cheap but ... THE BEST
DRZ 400 Corbin seat
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  #21  
Old 27 Apr 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidlomax View Post

and a 5000 mile service interval make it a gift from heaven.
Great write up but are you sure about this ?

5000 mile service interval on a DRZ? i was doing 3000 miles and thought that was pushing it due to the color. i was thinking 2000 miles if on more revs ect ect and 3000 miles on motorway/roads at low revs.
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  #22  
Old 28 Apr 2014
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No respect ...!

I'm quite frankly surprised that so little attention has been paid to this thread, in particular Dave's post #18. This is some excellent info from a pretty experienced and knowledgable rider.

Perhaps should be cross posted over on the Suzuki forum? ... or somehow made a
"Sticky" for those prepping for travel?

Overall, it's good travel prep advice for just about about any traveler riding any bike. .... and should be a MUST READ for anyone aboard a Suzuki DRZ400. Big ups!
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  #23  
Old 28 Apr 2014
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Giving this thread my love
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  #24  
Old 28 Apr 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
I'm quite frankly surprised that so little attention has been paid to this thread, in particular Dave's post #18. This is some excellent info from a pretty experienced and knowledgable rider.

Perhaps should be cross posted over on the Suzuki forum? ... or somehow made a
"Sticky" for those prepping for travel?

Overall, it's good travel prep advice for just about about any traveler riding any bike. .... and should be a MUST READ for anyone aboard a Suzuki DRZ400. Big ups!
Ref: No respect

I am sure people have respect regarding this post

For a long distance trip on a DRZ400 davidlomax has covered everything that is needed for any traveler who wants to prep his DRZ for a trip

However Mollydog not everyone rides DRZ400's and maybe the people who do just looking is enough for them with regards to post 18 and it is great someone has taken there time to write so much, as regards to having it posted on a Suzuki forums i myself am on a few DRZ only forums (drz has a massive following) with great advice on anything regarding the DRZ to basic fixes to complete engine modifications and in them forums what has been covered here is just the basics when first owning a DRZ as this is really just scratching the surface once you start to browse them forums and the knowledge these guys have is probably more than Mr Suzuki who built it has in his office in Japan but its just how far you want to read up on a bike you choose for a trip as for most all is covered here

Some people just buy a bike and only wish to carry out the basics they need in which this post is great for and is in a great place on what is a Traveling forum in which people may choose there transport as a DRZ

As i said before is a great detailed post for anyone considering choosing a DRZ however maybe the information regarding 5000 mile services for me i would not recommend/state this for a DRZ as i would think 3000 max is more suited for this bike on long distance riding and even less if ridden hard however my own opinion on this is just down to my own experience with my first DRZ
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  #25  
Old 29 Apr 2014
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No question about the depth of coverage out there for the DRZ. And you're correct ... not everyone rides a DRZ. But I thought Dave's advice applied to a rather wide swath of riders on any bike ... Good tips overall, IMO.

What I find is many travelers don't do the homework, don't really learn their bike as well as they might. That's why we see so many "amateur" mistakes and things missed once they're out on the road.

HUBB readers may not always follow forums like Thumper Talk and other forums ... even though, as you say, those forums offer good advice and more fixes than Mr. Suzuki himself. (but just make sure you're following the RIGHT guy who knows what he's talking about!!! ... so much BS over there!)

I was on Thumper Talk pretty early on, back when I had my DRZ400E.
That was 2001. So 13 years ago? Not much was known about that bike back then ... but over time the information base has grown immensely.

BUT ... IMO, it's important to "refine" the info, vet it and use the correct stuff ... the stuff that really applies to someone doing RTW type travel on a bike.

On Thumper Talk, that's the problem. Most are moto cross (or X moto cross) guys who've never traveled anywhere on a bike and never want to. Really different mind set and attitude. And that's why most HUBB riders would never go there ... even though there is good info to be had.
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  #26  
Old 6 May 2014
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wow, awesome thread #18, alot of good information there.
I have a trusty DRZ 400e 2008 here in australia. I brought it for 2000 bucks and rebuilt it myself over a 6 month period.
this bike has been pretty much all over australia, across the middle, over the top (savannah way). pretty much all offroad and has never missed a beat ever.
the bike had a major engine noise when I got it, so I did a bit a research on the net and decided to fit a manual cam chain tensioner (new chain also) and removed the auto decompression set up from the camshaft. ( this was done first and immediately I had a silent motor). I also put the JD jetting kit in the bike.
I use 14/47 gearing and for longer trips I simply bolt on the 15 front sprocket and carry the 14 just incase.
headlight is upgraded to the H4 glode set up (trailtech), trailtech vapour (it had no speedo when I got it and was the cheapest option), I also fitted two power outlets.
Tank is the 17 ltr Safari, enduro tank bag, E12s and the Renegade dry duffle. the set up is awesome, light and nimble in the deep sand. for trips over the ten day mark A use the Great Basin bags. and renegade duffle.
seat is standard.. I would like to upgrade but I have just purchased the new Kato 1190 adventure R.
I use the add on front screen on longer trips but usually dont run one in the bush trips.
aftermarket bars and unbreakable levers.
one let down on the drz is the rear shock... I have upgraded the sring rate and increased the fork oil weight in the front.. and is not too bad.
its great to hear other guys riding the DRZ around the world.... such a reliable bike.

tried to uplaod a few pics but it asks for URL.... not a browse option... any ideas
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  #27  
Old 4 Jun 2014
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Sorry guys,

5000km not 5000 miles...my bad!

I really hoped that the piece wasn't just about DRZ's, I just needed a bike to 'hang' all the info on. There are many points there that I have applied through riding all sorts of bikes all over the world. I'll re-write one day and make it more generic to show how the principle applies to all bikes really.

Dave
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  #28  
Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Great write up and makes for excelent reading.

So many useful tips, sure most are out there but very rarely all in one easy to digest place.

As well as all the details on the prep is refreshing to see you work on the price mantra too.

I've got no problem with anyone who wants and has the means to funk £20k bikes builds and prep but the reality is most of the big GSesses I see are bombing down the M1 looking like Charlie or Ewan off to the office job.

i love it when I see some proper bikes prepped and off on an adventure.

I try to reduce what I take every time I travel.

sounds mad but I use flights abroad as practice each time taking less and less when it doesnt matter that way when prepping for a bike trip I know I can always take less and still usually have too much!

The one point I don't think you covered is another major bonus;

Rider weight; we don't all need to have marathon runner type bodies but shaving a few (or more) pounds from our bodies not only reduces the stress on the bike it makes us more agile and less prone to fatigue.

I'm middle aged and I must admit I normally fool myself into think that the extra pounds I pack will help me survive (my body will be able to feed of itself!) but the reality is by loosing some of that weight I can ride further for longer.

When I say longer I mean longer not just a few extra mileseach day, keeping fit will keep us all riding for many more years instead of our bodies giving out!

I kept suffering cronic back pain, swimming has cured it
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Swings and roundabouts (as usual) on that one IMHO. Having lost 15 kg by controlling portion size etc. I now find myself with a greater need to carry leftovers, bulky food like fruit ( weren't chocolate bars easy to carry! ) , swimming kit and so forth. There is a nett improvement it has to said and when "forced" into that roadside bacon butty you will enjoy the taste!

Andy
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Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

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Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




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